Remains Identified May 2013

Name: Robert Edward Pietsch
Rank/Branch: Lt. Colonel USAF
Date of Birth: 24 December 1936
Home City of Record: Cleveland OH   (family in Pittsburgh PA)
Loss Date: 30 April 1968
Country of Loss: Laos
Loss Coordinates: 165605N 1055925E
Status (in 1973): Missing In Action
Category: 2
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: A26A
Refno: 1151

Source: Compiled from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S.
Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families,
published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK in 2020.

Other Personnel In Incident: Louis Guillermin (missing)


SYNOPSIS: Lt.Colonel Robert Pietsch and Maj. Luis Guillermin were flying an
A26A aircraft over Laos when their plane was downed in Savannakhet Province,
Laos.  Their last known location was about 10 miles east of the city of Ban
Muong Sen.

The A26A was redesignated B-26 following World War II and then given its
original classification as an attack plane.  After some redesigning for
counterinsurgency warfare and changes in armament, the craft was rechris-
tened A-26A.  The aircraft could remain on station for a long time,
patiently searching ot and attacking an enemy concealed by jungle in night
or bad weather.

The fates of Pietsch and Guillermin are unknown.  There are among nearly 600
Americans who disappeared in America's "secret war" in Laos who never
returned.  There is ample reason to believe that the Vietnamese and/or the
Communist Lao know what happened to Guillermin and Pietsch on April 30,

There have been over 5000 reports given to the U.S. Government relating to
Americans held captive in Southeast Asia.  The U.S. has, thus far, been
unable to find the formula to bring them home.  One of them could be Robert
E. Pietsch.


Lt Colonel Robert Pietsch, USAF, remains recovered August 2, 2006 and identified May 7, 2013.


October 11, 2013

Missing Airmen From Vietnam War Accounted For
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing from the Vietnam War, have been accounted for and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert E. Pietsch, 31, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Maj. Louis F. Guillermin, 25, of West Chester, Pa.,will be buried as a group Oct. 16, in a single casket representing the two servicemen at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.  Guillermin's individual remains weres buried Oct. 5, 2013, in Broomall, Pa. 

On April 30, 1968, Guillermin and Pietsch were on an armed-reconnaissance mission when their A-26A Invader aircraft crashed in Savannakhet Province, Laos.  Witnesses saw an explosion on the ground and did not see any signs of survivors.  Search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful, and Guillermin and Pietsch were listed as Missing in Action.

 In 1994, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) team, lead by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), surveyed the crash site in Savannakhet Province, Laos.  The team recovered human remains and evidence, but was unable to fully survey the site due to the presence of dangerous unexploded ordinance. 

In 2006, joint U.S./LPDR teams assisted by Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel cleared the site and gathered additional human remains and evidence, such as personal effects and crew-related equipment.

The remains recovered were analyzed by scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory using circumstantial evidence and forensic analysis, such as mtDNA comparisons. Portions of the remains were individually identified as Guillermin through an mtDNA match from a hair sample from Guillermin's medical file.  The rest of the remains recovered were not individually identified, but correspond to both Pietsch and Guillermin.

There are more than 1,640 American service members still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.  



Once MIA in Vietnam, Lt. Col. Pietsch to get proper burial Pittsburgh Post Gazette
More years passed, but in 1994, a team of U.S. and Laotian personnel led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting
Command surveyed the crash site. No one knew for 


Subject: Maj Robert Pietsch 5-1-68
Date: Sat, 8 Feb 2020 11:05:02 -0500
From: MARY LYNN SMITH <marylynn.smith@gmail.com>
I still have the Bracelet I wore in high school in the 70ís. I am 60 now. I wore it for years.
I prayed for the safe return of Maj Pietsch as well as my uncles who served in Vietnam in the army.
My uncles came home.
If the family of a Robert would like the bracelet, please let me know. His sacrifice, as well as the
sacrifice of every service member, should be remembered and honored. I am sorry for your tremendous

Sincerely, Mary Lynn Smith-Ytuarte






Return to Service Member Profiles

On May 31, 2013, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC, now DPAA) identified the remains of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Edward Pietsch, missing from the Vietnam War.

Lieutenant Colonel Pietsch entered the U.S. Air Force from Pennsylvania and was a member of the 609th Air Commando Squadron. On April 30, 1968, he piloted an A-26A Invader carrying one other crew member on an armed-reconnaissance mission to enemy targets in Laos. While over the Savannakhet Province, the Invader was shot down by enemy fire, killing Lt Col Pietsch. His remains could not be recovered at the time. In 1994, a joint U.S./Laotian team surveyed the crash site and recovered human remains but was unable to fully survey the site due to unexploded ordnance. In 2006, explosive ordnance disposal personnel cleared the site, and the team was able to gather additional evidence. Modern forensic technology was eventually able to identify Lt Col Pietsch among the remains recovered. 

Lieutenant Colonel Pietsch is memorialized in the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

If you are a family member of this serviceman, you may contact your casualty office representative to learn more about your service member.